Travel Tales

Of Flights, funny moments and more (Quirky Travel Tales)

Hello, it’s Day 6 of the Blogchatter A2Z Blogging Challenge and today I recount some funny moments that happen during travel while we are fretting about packing and missed flights and last minute prep.

For me, more than the travel and the destination, it is the journey that always stays back, the flights and flurry of activity at airports, on railway platforms, taxis and all the interesting people we come across or observe.

Some moments tickle the funny bone even after years. We were travelling from Dubai to South Africa and had booked a flight hopping at Addis Ababa. That evening, suddenly it rained cats and dogs in Dubai and the massive airport was flooded. The flight was delayed by three hours and we missed our connecting flight via Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa to SA. After much discussion and few hours wait we were put on two hopping flights instead of one, from Addis Ababa to Nairobi and then to Johannesburg.

This was our first experience with an African airline. As we boarded, we got a taste of Africa right there. The crew, pleasant but not overly sugar sweet, dressed in comfortable relaxed office like attire, welcomed passengers in a rather matter of fact way. ‘You got to fly so why the fuss!’ I liked it immediately. As we took off, the crew brought coffee. Not the usual coffee powder, sugar hot water mix but the most aromatic coffee brewed in an aluminium pot, served straight in your cup from the pot with a spout. Now this was the best, freshest, tastiest coffee I’ve ever had in my life, till date. And guess what, they know this and serve again happily, knowing too well, passengers will ask for more. Ethiopia grows some of the best coffee in the world. Coffee Arabica is a type of coffee indigenous to Ethiopian highlands. A large part of country’s income is generated through coffee production. Currently they are world’s seventh largest producer of coffee and Africa’s top producer. Two cups were enough for me to remember these details and how taste buds have memory sharper than grey cells, is proven!

However, the most exciting part happened after the coffee tasting session. The aircraft announced bad weather ahead and turbulence started. We all have some experience of turbulence but this was truly a wild variety. The craft started taking sharp vertical drops with a thud each time and people shrieked. I am someone who never goes near a merry-go-round or adventure rides. No surprise that I was literally screaming the loudest, clutching on to the armrests like dear life. Children too were startled looking at my histrionics. In some time, the landing was announced and guess what, the way to land was to let the craft drop again, with heavy jerks. Finally, after few minutes, we landed and moment the craft touched the ground, everyone clapped! What? Really? Clapping after landing is the norm in most African airlines, we were told and most flights are heavily turbulent not because of the weather but because, well, that’s how they fly their planes. This was reconfirmed on the second flight from Nairobi to SA. Since then the word turbulence turned a whole new meaning and I’m not scared of adventure park rides anymore.

But the coffee, the coffee was too good, so we’re cool, Ethiopian Airlines. The baggage was left behind at Addis Ababa and we spent a day at our hotel in our flight clothes, is another story altogether. Whether I remember what I saw in South Africa or not, I will forever remember the flight!

Another such moment I will always remember was my first flight ever, from Calcutta to Mumbai. As a Management Trainee on my first job, the company shuffled us to different sites. I was sent to Mumbai from Calcutta Head Office and an early morning Air India flight was booked so that I didn’t waste even a minute of office hours and report straight to work. Great plan, alright, but Air India after all has a reputation to keep. I started from home at midnight, reached half asleep to discover the flight was delayed by three hours and my luggage was few kilos above the limit. So I paid for the excess through my nose and precious first credit card and sat in waiting area despondent and yawning. With my eye half closed I saw someone familiar passing by, haven’t I seen him somewhere? Oh yes black attire, long hair and loads of jewellery, none other than Bappi Da aka Bappi Lahiri with his glasses on and a calm smile on his face. Music does that to you. You live in a happy world. I am a big fan of Bappi and Kishore and this was truly a fan moment!

Another such fan moment happened in college when we, a group of classmates, were in Mumbai for a project. We arrived at Church Gate station one morning and before heading to work, entered an Irani café outside the station. While we were busy eating and chatting, someone noticed a familiar looking gentleman at a table. He looked like someone we knew. To reconfirm we glanced at his feet. Bare. No footwear. Oh! he was M F Hussain! For an art enthusiast this was truly a dream moment. I still have his autograph I took in a small address book, safe with me. Every time I think of a magical moment, I gaze at the little book.

Every time life throws a surprise, I tell myself:

“Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they will be pleasantly surprised.”
― Marty Rubin

(Image credit: atulknareda, Pixabay)

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